By Debora Coty

I entered the elevator as two southern belles exited, deep in drawled conversation.

The elevator doors had no sooner closed behind them when the gal in the corner with the distinctive Jersey twang rolled her eyes at her slick chick chum. “Who says dhat? ‘Can you carry me to da store tamarra?’ Like you’re a sack o’ patatas. Whey’d dey learn English – in a baan?”

It took me a moment to yankee-translate then another long moment pondering what was wrong with asking someone to carry you to the store. I am and always have been a hick from the Florida-Georgia border sticks long before it was a smash band.

Oh. I got it. Carry me.

The proper verb should have probably been “take me” or “drive me” to the store, but I’ve heard “carry me” my whole backwoods life, so at first it seemed perfectly normal to me. Like mashing the light switch or saying, “I used to not.”

It wasn’t until college that I was enlightened about the … um, charming eloquence of regional colloquialisms and realized that carrying someone to the store taken literally would pretty much be the end of most of us. Carrying around ANYTHING for very long would get plum exhausting. If you don’t believe that, just try holding a cotton ball over your head for ten minutes.

Since I’ve felt kind of droopy lately (both physically and emotionally), I stopped and thought about what I might be carrying around with me that would drag me down so. Didn’t take long.

Unforgiveness.

Yep. I’ve been wearing it this week like a mule strapped to my back. Got so used to it, I hadn’t really noticed the big furry beast. Til now.

I know that by not forgiving, we carry people and wounds around with us, weighing us down with our invisible burdens. Our outsides may look normal, but our insides are squashed by the heaviness of resentment.

Harboring resentment is like chugging down strychnine and expecting the other person to die. Your anger doesn’t hurt your offender. It hurts you. It wounds you and those who care about you, those who feel helpless and hopeless watching bitterness gnaw away like ravenous sewer rats at the you they love. Rats that will never be satiated.

I’ve heard it said that apologizing doesn’t necessarily mean you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value relationships more than your ego. And isn’t that the way Papa God wants us to prioritize?

Yep. Just the elbow in the gut I needed to jar my need-to-forgive muscle. It gets stuck sometimes in all the fat and needs a little jolt to pop out and get some exercise.

So that’s my new goal: Exercise that poor flabby forgiveness muscle and put down the donkey. How about you? Got any invisible burdens weighing you down?